Flu off to slow start but don't get complacent yet

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February 2, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Flu season is making a slow start this winter. There are widespread cases reported in only two states: Virginia and New Jersey.

But, experts say, don't get complacent. Influenza usually ramps up in February, long after many people have forgotten last fall's campaigns to get vaccinated. Last year, there was even a spike in March.

The CDC notes that while doctor visits for flu-like symptoms have been below normal all season, they did inch up each week in January. Also, 14 states are reporting what the CDC calls "regional activity." So, flu is making people sick, but just not as many statewide as is usual.

Seasonal flu aside, specialists have another worry: Bird flu. The global recession could threaten work to keep the deadly H5N1 strain in check in birds, which in turn limits its spread to people.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)